Tomorrow, some students will go to the Students' Union website to cast their votes in the executive election. However, the vast majority will let the two days of voting pass without so much as a nod of recognition. With seven candidates running for six positions, it's not surprising that many students won't bother to vote. But those who do should be aware that even in uncontested races, you're not obligated to support the sole candidate. Our SU has seen fit to provide us with a useful option that doesn't require us to spoil our ballots in order to make a point about the lack of a viable candidate: we can vote for None of the Above.
In several of the uncontested races this year, candidates have given the impression that they don't believe they're required to work for our votes. The unopposed candidates — Rory Tighe for President, Farid Iskandar for VP (External), Emerson Csorba for VP (Academic), Andy Cheema for VP (Operations and Finance), and Raphael Lepage Fortin for Board of Governors Representative -— don't have the motivation of an opponent to put forth strong campaigns. This can result in undeveloped platforms and campaigns that are far from inspirational.
Our soon-to-be SU President's campaign speaks to a lack of effort; his campaign promises offer very few new or innovative points. Tighe hopes to resurrect the doomed Powerplant, install more plasma screen TVs across campus, and somehow convince people to volunteer for the SU, but he's very vague on the details of how he's going to accomplish a feat that presidents before him have been trying to do for years.
Csorba and Iskandar's campaign materials give the impression they're not entirely sure what job they're applying for. Csorba's posters contain vague promises about balancing "school and self," while one of Iskandar's buzzwords is the inexplicable "fidelity." In Csorba's case, his poor campaign detracts from what could be good ideas about the university's Academic Plan; for Iskandar, it only highlights how little he seems to understand about what the VP (External) does.
Perhaps the worst of the bunch is the BoG Representative candidate Lepage Fortin, who goes by "Raph." At Friday's Greek Forum, his platform was to assure attendees that he has "a leadership role, and [is] very, very well qualified" to be the BoG Representative, before promising a BoG Twitter account and video blogs. Lepage Fortin explained that he left the Lister forum early because of a prior engagement; clearly, representing students to the Board of Governors is this candidate's number one priority. Or not — at the Monday Horowitz forum, he stated that he no longer believes that the BoG Representative position is about representing students. This, in addition to his utterly nonsensical campaign materials featuring a pig, should make students wonder how qualified he really is.
Students must ask themselves if a candidate's presence on the ballot is a good enough reason to vote them into office for an organization with a $10 million budget. If their platform makes no sense, and if they couldn't even be bothered to take the time to read the job description for their position, then we shouldn't be ticking the box next to their name.
If a candidate loses to None of the Above, nominations will reopen and students will vote on the position a second time along with the student councillor elections later this month. With a little luck, we might then get some competition and possibly even decent applicants for a few of these positions. Perhaps students who see how poor this year's crop of candidates is will be inspired to put their own names forward.
If you intend to vote in this election, consider whether the candidates have demonstrated their qualification for the position with their platform points, the efforts they've put into their campaigns, and their answers to questions posed to them in the forums. If not, None of the Above is your opportunity to demand better representation, to insist on student politicians who will actually perform well in the job we're granting them and earn the $33,000 a year we're about to pay the incoming executives.